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Free Will Or Predetermined Fate? Essay

1003 words - 5 pages

Imagining that one’s fate has been set in stone and is unable to change is a scary thought; the idea that one small decision can change the course of one’s entire life is also difficult to grasp. The debate over whether or not one has control over his fate has been a strong point in many philosophies today. These thoughts about life include those of Ayn Rand and Stephen Crane. Though Rand, a strong believer of objectivism, has differing ideas from those of Crane, a naturalist, they convey their ideas in similar ways through the portrayal of their characters. While Rand’s The Fountainhead expresses the imperativeness of free will and the ego, Crane’s “The Open Boat” emphasizes the opposite ...view middle of the document...

Unlike in Crane’s naturalistic short stories and poems, characters in Rand’s novel can make their own decisions, regardless of whether these choices affect their fate in the end.
Convictions held by Crane about free will and other aspects of life fall under naturalism, where nature plays a large role in determining fate. In Crane’s story, “The Open Boat,” nature is exposed as being in control and not caring about the fate of the characters. Characters are revealed using an amoral attitude by only being named by their position and not being given names. Pessimism, setting, and irony are all effectively used in this short story to convey the ideas and beliefs of Crane as well. He illustrates, “The tumbling boiling flood of white water caught the boat and whirled it almost perpendicular. Water swarmed in from all sides…. The little boat, drunken with this weight of water, reeled and snuggled deeper into the sea” (732). One of the core points of naturalism is the fact that nature does not care and is in control of the fate of the characters. The imagery conveyed here shows how nature acts without consideration for the characters, and its actions may determine their destiny. Although Crane’s philosophy differs greatly from that of Rand’s, the two belief systems also have a few similarities.
One idea that stands true among both the philosophy of Rand and that of Crane is that facts are facts and they are indisputable. Objectivity plays a large role in both selections, where facts are stated simply, without question, without emotion. Crane, for example, writes, “…when, willy nilly, the firm fails, the army loses, the ship goes down” (714). He writes without displaying sympathy for the passengers or using strong figurative language to distract from the unquestionable facts. Rand also uses this technique when she...

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